2001 Western Premiers’ Conference


MOOSE JAW, May 31, 2001 -- Premiers remain committed to the key goals of preserving, protecting and improving the health of Canadians; ensuring that their residents have access to an appropriate and effective range of health services; and to working with each other to ensure the long-term sustainability of the system so that health care services are available when needed by Canadians in future years. They noted that their governments have made progress on the health care agenda over the past year, but that more remains to be done.

In this context, Premiers discussed the recently announced Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, which is being chaired by the former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow. They shared their ongoing concerns over the future sustainability of publicly-funded health care systems across the country and stressed the need to work together to find innovative solutions to the health system management issues that are resulting in significant cost pressures for provinces/territories. They agreed that they must move quickly to address some of these challenges, and not simply wait for the report of the Romanow Commission before they take further action.

Premiers noted that the Commission must address an important part of the health care debate, the adequacy of federal funding for health and other social programs. They renewed their call on the federal government to implement an appropriate escalator to support the continued quality and sustainability of publicly-funded health services in this country. Premiers also indicated their interest in coordinating their presentations to the Commissions.

Premiers also affirmed their willingness to continue to work together on a western regional basis to improve the management and delivery of health services They called on their Ministers of Health to expand their collaborative efforts to creating western approaches to ongoing health renewal and innovation.

In particular, Western Premiers noted the importance and increasing urgency of developing and implementing effective approaches to pharmaceutical management, as well as working to address the supply of doctors, nurses and other medical professions, including mechanisms for common accreditation of graduates from foreign medical schools.

Premiers directed western Ministers of Health to identify a concrete strategy for achieving cost-effective pharmaceutical management practices to ensure that Canadians continue to have access to new and appropriate drugs, while promoting the overall sustainability of publicly-funded health care systems. Premiers called for an interim report on this work to be completed in advance of the 2001 Annual Premiers' Conference, so that they could share the results with their colleagues from the rest of Canada.

Premiers also directed western Health Ministers to discuss a Human Resources Strategy and to develop, on a priority basis, approaches to help address the supply of doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel, including mechanisms for common accreditation of graduates of foreign medical schools.

Premiers noted that, despite previous commitment by the federal government, there has been no progress toward a federal-provincial-territorial dispute settlement mechanism in relation to the Canada Health Act. Premiers also noted there is a particular need for the federal government to move quickly to honour its 2001 federal Speech from the Throne commitments with respect to developing strategies and programs to improve the health of Aboriginal Canadians.

Note: Mr. Gordon Campbell, Premier-elect of British Columbia, attended the 2001 Western Premiers' Conference. However, in his current role as Premier-elect, Mr. Campbell was unable to give the official endorsement of the Province of British Columbia to the positions and commitments outlined in this Communiqué.

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